Canadian Mental Health Association has released its new report "Care not Corrections: Relieving the Opioid Crisis in Canada." (Image contributed)

14 per cent of Albertans feeling empathetic: Canadian Mental Health Association

14 per cent of Albertans feeling empathetic: Canadian Mental Health Association

Just as Albertans are experiencing pandemic fatigue after two long years, research suggests that Albertans may also be experiencing “empathy fatigue,” says the Canadian Mental Health Association.

A recent survey conducted by the CMHA and UBC researchers shows feelings of empathy have eroded over the course of the pandemic, with only 14 per cent of Albertans feeling empathetic, down markedly since the onset of the pandemic.

Empathy is the ability to understand another’s perspective and feelings.

“The decline in empathy that we are seeing is concerning,” said Margaret Eaton, CMHA national CEO.

“If we are to resolve our conflicts in relationships, in society and globally, we need to understand one another, even when we don’t agree.”

The survey also reveals that 44 per cent of Albertans are as worried about lost social connections with 47 per cent worried about being separated from friends and family and 41 per cent about getting sick with COVID.

CMHA/UBC data released in March shows that 46 per cent of Albertans have experienced a decline in their mental health since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Emily Jenkins, UBC professor who co-led the research, said the deterioration of social relationships “that we see in the data” comes at a time when we need each other more than ever.

“Empathy is essential not only for building positive and healthy relationships, but also for reducing divisions between people, and in our communities. And the good news is, it is an emotional response that can be cultivated,” said Jenkins.

The theme of the 71st annual Mental Health Week, which began Monday, is the importance of empathy.

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